Warm lemon rice with roast potato wedges

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Cold, colder, coldest!! 3 words to describe the current daytime temperature. Everyone I talk to is really mad about this cold weather spell. This has possibly been the most freezing we have seen in years. Even my remote garage opener freezes up. I’ve had to wrap it in a woolen hat to make it work. One yoga participant was stuck in her car for 1/2 hour as her battery died..Tragic!! right? what do you do then to beat the cold?

Winter has me reaching for comfort food. But who am I kidding? Winter or otherwise, food is always a comfort. Its such a basic, basic human need, isn’t it? Right up there, in the order of food, clothing and shelter :)

Yogi principles go a long way in helping balance and heat up the body with warming spices in winter.

Charaka, a master physician describing the fine science of Ayurveda(ancient indian medicine) has this to say

In fact, the whole world is the teacher for the wise and enemy to the foolish”.

So you see when I translate my Delhi winter cooking recipes, to a pretty severe winter in Canada, I’m just following master guidelines :)

The yogic masters played subtly with nature. They observed that every body type has a quality. Every food has a quality and every season has a quality. They hummed along with nature, delicately and subtly adjusting diet to season..Come winter, as temperatures plummet in Canada, I am reminded of my childhood foods in Delhi. Suddenly heavier, warmer, spicier foods made their way. By the way, never for one moment should you allow yourself to think that Indian people eat spicy food only because we are used to it. We are actually observing the age old rhythm of the yogic masters. Upping heat and spice content in winter and cooling down in summer.

Which is why I simply love this comfort food recipe I’m about to share. I’ve been making it practically every weekend as it comes together quickly & its an absolute sensory delight. But you do have to know what spices work with each other for this cold month.

For Warm Lemon Rice
½ cup rice(I used long grain, but not basmati) Spice Mix
1 tbsp red skin peanuts(skip if allergic)
1 thai green chili, thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 lemon, squeezed for juice
1 tbsp split yellow peas
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
½ tsp urad seeds
pinch hing
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt to taste
For the roast potato wedges
1 cup washed, peeled and red potatoes Spice Mix
1/2 tsp dry roasted cilantro powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper(or to taste)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt to taste

Method
Warm Lemon rice
• Wash and rinse rice several times. Drain water and set aside. Basmati is not my typical preference for lemon rice. Its already fragrant and we don’t want its fragrance to compete with the spices
• Boil rice, with whatever technique you are used to. I prefer to boil rice in 1.5 times water till all the liquid is absorbed. Water ratio will vary for different types of rice. Set aside.
• In pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, and let splutter. Then add urad seeds, curry leaves, ginger, peanuts, thai chili and hing. Saute lightly till nuts & seeds get golden brown, then add turmeric powder and stir together. Remove from stove.
• Mix in the cooked rice with spice mix and add salt & lemon juice to taste.

Roast potato wedges
• Wash and cut potato into wedges. Wipe down wedges thoroughly.
• Heat cast iron pan. I’ve moved away from non stick a few months ago, but if you are still tied to your non stick pan, feel free to cook in it.

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• Add coconut oil, turmeric powder, cayenne and cilantro powder.
• Stir and then toss in the potato wedges. Cover with lid and stir every now & then to ensure doneness on all sides.
• When they are cooked, wedges will be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. They will also be very,very fragrant.
• Sprinkle salt to taste. I’m hooked on Himalayan sea salt, but you can substitute with regular sea salt.

That was my food tip for a wintry day. Mustard seeds, cayenne, cilantro, ginger are all heating spices that are going to lift you up & melt away cold creating mucus.

Serve warm lemon rice with roast potato wedges. Yum and so completely fulfilling.. don’t you agree.

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I’d like to leave you with an amazing under 3-minute sun salutation stretch that you can do any time to wake up tired winter bodies.

try it out. Its only two and a half minutes long :) and see your whole body warm & wake up..

–charuyoga–

Yoga is not religion.. just science

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My Sunday downtown yoga class was all done. Bending down to wear my boots before I hit the outside freezing -38 with windchill temperature, when a participant stops me with a smile “Can I talk with you” she asked. “Sure, let’s leave the studio for the next class. Come on over to the sitting lounge and we can chat”, I said.

Even before we could seat ourselves, she broke into an agitated plea “I have these non-stop thoughts and can’t go to sleep. I can’t even find words to speak to you now. These thoughts are just taking over my life. I can’t focus. Can you please teach me meditation”. Another participant had followed us, keen with a question on her mind. The other participant nodded and agreed, “I have insomnia, I wake up at 3 am and then can’t go to sleep till 6, by then its time to get ready for work. I’m in for meditation class too” she said.

As I observed these participants, I could already see how much the yoga physical practice benefited them.  They both experienced feeling alive and vibrant after class. But class was just once a week and clearly they needed more help to get their thoughts in balance.

This brings me to the topic of this blog

Yoga is not a religion… its a science.

I get asked this all the time, oh you grew up in india, its your culture, that’s why you are drawn to yoga. You can read and write Sanskrit, you understand the yogic scriptures and that’s why its easy for you to practice and teach. as you are born in a hindu household and especially because you were born and raised in a Brahmin family, these things come easy to you. Its all your religion.

STOP!!!

Yes, I was fortunate to be born and raised in a Hindu Brahmin family, where a lot of importance is given to knowledge, culture, and the arts. But please before you accuse me of being good at yoga because of all of the above, do me a favor. Go to India. See for yourself how many people practice yoga and its teachings. It really has nothing to do with place of birth. I also see how some people in the western world try to fool unsuspecting people by learning a few words of Sanskrit and all of sudden they get treated as yogis. Be careful and be wary of fakes. Be careful of who you trust on the yoga practice…I’ve been duped and will share that story another time. A sincere yoga practitioner will truly have no need to keep a bhagavad gita open in front of him/her & quote random pieces to impress others.

Yoga is not a religious practice.

Yoga is non denominational. Anyone, of any faith, any belief system, any country of origin can practice yoga.. Yes, it originated from India, but that does not make it a religious practice. Its like saying phones are the property of americans since an American invented it. Or homeopathy can only be done by a german practitioner since it was invented by Germans. It is completely free of religion and nuances. In my yoga class, I freely draw upon Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, and Hindu teachings to name a few. Yogic masters are many and they cross the borders of religion.

Some of the most amazing yogis I have had the fortune to meet. Are just the simplest most down-to-earth folk, who don’t need to impress with knowledge of the Vedas.. Like the boatman Ganesha who picks us up from the docks in a boat to take us to the Sivananda retreat. He does his work simply, consistently and with no sign of large ego. Or the gateman at the Eastern townships yoga retreat in Canada who shovels snow in the bitter cold of Quebec winter with a smile, so that everyone who enters has a clean passage way. Or at my workplace our distribution colleague Mr. Khan who does his daily work with so much grace and always with a smile. Or my favorite again at the Bahamas ashram, Bahamian staff, Gale who entered the ladies bathroom on her shift, looked around at the load of crap, sighed, made a thanks to god for giving her this day and went about her duty.

I am attracted to yoga for its practical body work I can apply to my daily life

In the past 2 weeks I have had several people walk into class referred by their physiotherapist, recovering from neck injuries, whiplash from car accidents, scoliosis, sciatica pain to name a few. And for those I create a practice with a physical and mental slant. At the end of last week’s class a participant told me how hard the class was. And it has to be physically exacting sometimes, so that the mind has no option, no choice but to shut down and focus on the body!!

Then there are others whose physical form is ok but they come to yoga seeking mental peace. Like my lovely participant who suffers from insomnia and extremely busy thoughts that are taking over her life..she is young, in her late 20s maybe early 30’s, smart, fit, successful, wise and insightful. She is already facing up to life’s truth. Chattering thoughts that stop her from being effective, either at work or at her home. There are still others who approach yoga from a purely physical aesthetic. Clearly yoga is a very practical science, that lets you either take care of your mind or body or bring both in balance and equilibrium.

My attraction to yoga is mainly, fundamentally, primarily because of the following:

The scientific enquiry that yoga practice allows me is why I love YOGA the most.

  • With my yoga practice, I am able to question myself, my actions, rely on my intuition that grows stronger with every practice. Often times during meditation I get clear insights into what I need to do. Sometimes I feel like stopping & writing down these amazing insights. note to self, keep pen & paper handy before meditating :)
  • With my yoga practice, I am able to lead a gentle life, being gentle with myself, my friends, my relationships, and my community, without having to resort to untruths and without having to manipulate others with lies.
  • With my yoga practice I am able to accept myself and my so called flaws without judgement. including my not so perfect profile or my stomach fat :) I am then able to extend that light & joyful, non-judgmental attitude towards others accepting them as they are.

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  • With my yoga practice I am able to nourish myself with freshly prepared wholesome and delicious foods, and I am able to nourish others by serving them the same food. Did I mention my love affair with tasty, healthy & pretty looking food :)

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  • With my yoga practice, I am able to laugh at myself when my mind takes me on these crazy whirlwind trips !!
  • With my yoga practice I am able to nurture myself and fill myself with self-love and in turn able to spread it around and nurture others who are in need, sometimes by simply listening to them, other times by actively helping out in some way.
  • Through my yoga practice I have been able to reverse my pre-diabetic blood sugar count, simply by becoming more conscious of different foods and their action on my body.
  • Most of all through my yoga practice I am able to be completely self-expressed, through my increased intuition I am able to find the skills I am best at, and use those in community and the work I do.

I’m sure by now you would agree that yoga is not religion, but very very practical, rational, scientific, valuable, no nonsense real-life-skills stuff.

All of these are amazing by products of yoga

The biggest benefit, the most practical and the most precious benefit is the balance yoga brings about in the mind. Its able to still my mind, so I can be completely present in the moment. Focused on the task at hand, focused on the person who I am with in the moment. Its not easy and I haven’t achieved mastery yet. But again yoga is not a competition and there is no end, it’s the process of the practice, the scientific enquiry on the nature of the mind.

By now you’ll probably agree that yoga is scientific and rational not religious.  So how can you now tap into that major reservoir of the mind? And make a request to the mind to stay calm? Why through yoga of course followed by meditation. That’s what I like to share in my yoga class, a strong and steady physical practice with options that anyone, any age can do..followed by guided meditation ending in complete relaxation, mind, body & soul all tuned up ready to hit another work week!

Here then is a tip to regain mastery over the mind. A video I made a while ago, under 10 minutes. Go on, try it out. Even though I suggest seated posture, you can easily practice this meditation. while you are in bed all tucked in. and allow your mind to get still so that you can get the restful sleep you deserve.

 –charu yoga–

 

 

 

 

 

2-for-1 lentil soup becomes kale lentil flatbread

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You already knew that kale and lentils are a power couple right! But did you know? lentils or legume soup is treated as a two-for-one deal? In New Delhi, day-old lentil soup gets a fresh makeover. Shh!! Ancient indian secret :) We convert it to a flatbread simply by adding a few spices to awaken the soup. Voila, a brand new dish with the least amount of fuss.

All this started as I was getting ready to help a friend who has a grand vision for healing in the town of Brampton. She asked if I would teach some chair yoga to a group of seniors. Would I ever? And to each of us healers from various traditions-reiki healers, rolfing, energy healers, quantum healers who had gathered to help make her vision come true, she asked if we would like to bring some food.

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Of course I offered kale lentil flatbreads. Nothing like low glycemic index lentils to give the class a slow burning food just right for a yoga practice. I made the kale lentil soup last night since the flavours are best if they can sit overnight. This morning at 8 AM I kneaded the dough. As I surveyed my kitchen and the work involved to hand make flatbreads for 20 plus the healers.. I had to do a reality check. Wasn’t going to happen. Time management kicked in. I decided instead to focus on the chair yoga presentation.. and bought some samosas, freshly prepared in my local east indian store.. where fresh batches keep coming out of their kitchen all day long. If you like samosas that are light but not too heavily spiced, then try Asian foods on ceremonial & mclaughlin, great groceries, smiling and helpful Punjabi staff.

Dinner was this powerhouse couple of kale lentil flatbreads. Loved it, can’t wait to share these delicious flatbreads with Apsara café orders tomorrow.  And Oh. if you are too tired to cook, you can always request an order with me. I cater as well and will share a beautiful secret with you about my catering next time..

makes 8 flatbreads
½ cup pigeon peas
½ cup split yellow chickpeas
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup red onions, sliced
½ cup tomatoes, cubed
1 tbsp fresh garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 cup kale, chopped
Spice Mix
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 thai green chillies,(optional for more heat)
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
2 tbsp coconut oil

Method

Kale Lentil soup
• Wash lentils(note: lentils & legumes are used interchangeably here. watch for a future post on the similarity & difference) thoroughly several times in water. Soak in 2 cups water, add turmeric and cook till soft. I cooked them in my trusty pressure cooker. Mash them with the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside.

• In pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add cumin and hing. Then quickly add 1/2 cup onions, ginger and garlic. Saute till soft. Add cayenne and toss in tomatoes. When everything is cooked, take off stove. Let cool and then puree in food processor.

• Return pureed tomato onion ginger garlic puree to hot pan. Add cooked lentils, kale and salt to taste. Let it come to a boil. This is imp to remove any traces of raw flavours. Set aside to cool. I set aside overnight in the fridge. It does get thicker in the fridge. You might be tempted to dig into the soup at this stage so make an extra batch – one for soup one night, the other for the flatbreads the next night.

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Kale lentil flatbreads

• Mix soup with 2 cups flour and remaining chopped onions and knead lightly. Sprinkle some water as you go if needed. Dough has to be pizza consistency. Add the optional thai green chillies, if you like more spice and salt as needed.

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• Make balls of the spiced flour. Roll out to desired size and thickness. Don’t worry if they are not perfect rounds. That’s part of the charm. Cook on hot griddle, smearing with some coconut oil. I’m in love with my new cast iron grill press. Don’t my flatbreads look pretty with grill lines running across. Bonus – I didn’t have to press down with a spoon to cook all sides of the flatbread.. the weight of the grill press did it.. I love love my job, I found this press in Kingston where I traveled on work last week.. and found this in a general housewares store..Highly recommend this cook’s favourite new device.

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• Voila – healthy flatbreads with the wholesome goodness of kale and lentils with nourishing warming spices for winter. What more can you ask for.

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• Here’s the class as we wrapped up. I led them through a final relaxation . and it was hard to get them to come out of their meditative phase..don’t they look completely chilled out..

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So how did you find this healthy post? What else would you like to learn to make? Let me know. I love feedback. Recently I had someone ask if I would teach Healthy cooking 101 as their son is off red meat and they want nourishing and tasty options. Watch out for details on that.. as this has been an ongoing request from many of you.. I’ll also open this up as an online class for my many friends south of the border who made this request a while ago. Write to me in either the comments section or to apsaraaliveyoga@gmail.com if you’d like to be part of this cooking class.

–charuyoga–

Cure that cold with Golden Milk

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Wait! Milk for a cold. Isn’t that a no no for my sinuses, Asked a friend.. Not with this special recipe. Its cold and wintry and an onset of flu symptoms seems to be everywhere. One friend was cured of a cold with this recipe and another asked for a cure. High time I shared my secret :)

My grandfather, a village doctor swore by this recipe. Even without a cold, he would get my mom to serve him golden milk every night. The secret to his healthy long life I’m guessing. Meanwhile we thought he just loved milk.

In India, traditionally, turmeric milk has been used for colds, congestion, headache, and sore throats.

Back to the original friend’s question- Why black pepper and milk with turmeric?
Turmeric has a component called curcumin which is fat soluble. Meaning -it dissolves in fat.

With No fat, curcumin has a really hard time going further than the stomach, into the small intestine where ultimately it gets absorbed into the blood stream where it has the highest benefits.

Same logic for curry –where turmeric is the main ingredient. Ever loved the bright golden colours of indian food, that’s right it comes from turmeric. But the best way to absorb it even in curry is when its dissolved in fat. Now you can pardon your local indian restaurant for serving you greasy golden food :)

Ok, what about black pepper? Next spice, Black pepper and its main component piperine. Its similar to capsaicin in chili peppers. Adding black pepper to turmeric dissolved in milk increases curcumin’s bioavailabilty by 1000 times. Now there’s an interesting statistic to make you want to try this combo of turmeric black pepper in other places & recipes.

1 cup milk (I used almond milk) Spice Mix
½ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch black pepper, less than ¼ tsp

Method
• Boil milk with turmeric and black pepper powder
• When milk begins to bubble remove from stove
• Drink hot or warm. Can’t handle spiced milk –just add some honey to sweeten.

Health Benefits of golden milk

  • Boost immune system so you can stay healthy during the cold winter months cooped up indoors. Turmeric milk’s powerful antioxidant properties help promote heart health, memory, and boost the immune system. It has the potential to deliver more antioxidants then even vitamins E and C.
  • Reduce arthritic pain. Clinically proven to ease arthritic pain and promote increased flexibility in many studies. It’s comparable to large doses of ibuprofen (800 mg daily) without side-effects while actually delivering other health benefits.
  • Stop colds and reduce future occurrence
  • Fight insomnia. My grandfather’s nightly warm beverage of turmeric milk may have been the reason he slept so well at night.
  • Help your digestive tract – the root of good or bad health. It helps ease and heal inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Slow and help reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease as symptoms develop. It also helps eliminate cognitive decline normally attributed to “old age.
  • Get glowing skin. Turmeric milk helps fights free radicals that damage skin and make it lose its glow and elasticity. Turmeric face masks are a great way to get external skin glow, but turmeric milk can help in internal absorption.
  • Meat eaters rejoice.. It reduces carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that are formed when meat is cooked by up to 40 percent.

Next time you reach for that turmeric supplement. Stop.. read its ingredients. Does it have the necessary fat to dissolve the curcumin in turmeric, if not, make turmeric paste by dissolving the capsule in 1 tsp coconut oil & then take it.

Last word : turmeric has been used in India’s Ayurvedic remedies for 2,500 years. “We’ve shown that [curcumin] has well over 100 mechanisms of damaging cancer cells, particularly colon cancer cells,” said Professor Will Stewart.

All these benefits add up to a great anti-aging agent, with direct results showing up in your skin after daily use over an extended period of time. Now you know the secret of my youth and that of millions of indian women :) who use turmeric in their daily cooking.

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Here’s my backyard. February arrived with a dramatic snowfall! Doesn’t it make you want to just cuddle indoors with a blanket and sip warm beverages. Now, you know how to. So go on, make yourself a nice warm glass of turmeric milk next time you feel under the weather with this wintry snow all around. As you get better, do write to me.

another turmeric recipe for you to try
http://charuyoga.com/2012/09/16/black-eyed-bean-stew/

–charuyoga–

5 reasons why you need to practice shoulder stand

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Last week I taught a weekly yoga class in Norval a small town in Ontario. My class was all truly all levels. From an 8-year old trying yoga for the first time to 20 somethings, 30 somethings and older participants. Some of them were healthy, some came with injuries to their neck and shoulder and were recommended to try yoga by their physiotherapist. So I had to ensure everyone was taken care of so each participant got the maximum benefit of yoga while practicing safe. How can you not smile when you see these sweet participants :)

I offered variations of an amazing inversion to help everyone try it out. Did you know ? Inversions are an awesome way to get blood moving in the opposite direction and allow some rest for our heart.

Shoulder stand of sarvangasana is called the Queen of yoga postures and it is truly everything to your body. In Sanskrit, 
Sarva = everything
Anga = limbs

As I started researching and reading up on what all the great masters had to say about shoulder stand, I was blown away.. so many reasons to practice shoulder stand. i’m surprised its not an integral part of all yoga.. Still do be careful when you practice shoulder stand. I offer a variation in this video that is safe to practice for anyone, including those who worry their neck may be compromised.

Here then are my 5 reasons to try out shoulder stand:

1. Relax and rejuvenate the heart. When you get upside down, you allow blood pooled in your feet to release. Oxygenated blood flows easily to the body, prevents blood from stagnating in the body. Your body finds it easier to take blood to the heart, brain and even your eyes. Your heart relaxes as it has less work to do and your heart rate drops.

2. Circulation. You are helping the lymphatic system by increasing circulation. Your lymph nodes get bathed in fresh lymph which simply charge and nourish your entire body.

3. Insomnia or low energy. Ever had trouble falling asleep at night? Try shoulder stand, its great for insomnia, if you practice before going to bed. Ever feel low in energy during the day? Then try this pose in the morning to regulate energy levels and give you an all-around pickup. interesting contradiction right, it can make you fall asleep and it can also wake you up. That’s yoga for you. all about balance.

4. Battling weight issues. This is an amazing fat loss pose. It increases metabolism. Your digestion gets stronger. ‘Agni’ the digestive fire is ignited in the abdomen. Your liver, spleen, pancreas & stomach operate efficiently removing toxins, and strengthen your digestion.

5. Allergies. Inversions help restore the immune system in balance. You might be surprised how this simple pose can reduce allergies that attack the immune system. Mainly because your immune system is strengthened and better able to safeguard your body against unwanted intruders, namely allergies :)

There are many other benefits of shoulder stand. These are just a few of the main ones.

Last words. My master says in The Sivananda Companion to Yoga:
The asanas in this cycle are mentally far more approachable than those in Headstand Cycle, for the simple reason that with your head face up on the floor, you can see what you are doing. This not only reduces your fear of pitching your body into new positions, but it also means that you can act as your own teacher, checking that your body is straight or your limbs are symmetrical. The cycle concentrates prana [energy] on the neck and upper spine area and this in turn brings great benefit to the lower back – since any work done at one end of the spine is automatically reflected in the other end.

Contraindications – Women should not practice shoulder stand during menstruation. Women in their first trimester of pregnancy should stay away from shoulder stand in their first trimester.. If you have neck injuries or shoulder pain, try my supported variation to keep your neck safe. More and more physiotherapists and osteopaths are recommending yoga to their clients. As always check with your health care practitioner before embarking on a yoga practice.

hope you enjoy my supported variation of shoulder stand. Have you tried it out? I’d love to hear from you..

–charuyoga–

5 ways to increase feminine energy

My heart goes out to this reader who posed the following question on https://www.facebook.com/ApsaraAlive page-

I am actually suffering from pcos(polycstic ovarian syndrome). I have a masculine body type. What are the yoga postures you would suggest me to build up a feminine body shape and a more feminine voice? My voice is quite deep because of the high testosterone level and I don’t like my voice
thank you Charu

——-

Wow! How much this reader must suffer.. and I really want to do everything I can to share with her on how to increase feminine energy.

But first- What’s masculine and what’s feminine anyway?

Here’s a cdownloadhecklist for you to go through. You’ll probably notice that you are a blend of both energies. And that’s how yoga sees the soul. No gender, just energy. Some of us are strongly feminine while others are strongly masculine. In yoga we hope to become whole by balancing our unique mix of masculine and feminine energies.

Masculine Energy     Feminine energy
doing being
Ego humility
aggression surrender
analytical intuitive
concrete abstract
impatient patient
rushing nurturing
assertive receptive
left brain Right brain
thrusting receiving
organization synthesizing
logical creative
busy calm
hard soft
controlling allowing

In western society where I now live, Masculine energy is competitive and likes to win. Checklists, getting things done, action oriented tasks are all masculine energy. Masculine energy is great at initiative to conquer worlds. Masculine energy is hard, driving and strong because of this conquering nature. Business can be seen as a very masculine act. It looks at the bottom line, looks at number crunching and to a large degree is all about making money, keeping it and making more money. Masculine energy is associated with the head, it is thinking energy and practical. It is successful in building empires. Masculine energy is courageous and has a lot of common sense. It has strong self-esteem and is more risk taking. Masculine energy is outward focussed. Masculine energy is prized in the industrial world and in general the world has more masculine energy than feminine.

In eastern society where I was born and raised, feminine energy is nurturing, creative, listens, is artistic, is intuitive, likes to feed and nurture others. Receives attention and compliments from others with grace. Dresses in flowing clothes, is protected and taken care of by community. Feminine energy is enthusiastic about life, open and easily receives praise, gifts, and compliments. She is also generous about acknowledging others around her, recognizes interdependence and likes to work collaboratively. Will do everything she can to keep a group together in harmony. Feminine energy loves people and is confident about interacting with others socially. Feminine energy is childlike and has her heart open to reach out to others easily. Feminine energy is soft and emotional, receiving and giving. Feminine energy is associated with the heart, it is feeling energy. Feminine energy is inward focussed. It is the spiritual battery for each of us.

Clearly each of us needs both energies in balance.

I’m sure you are wondering where I weigh on the scale. Just like everyone I am als10152022_10153916851330487_29805970_no a blend of feminine and masculine energies. I have a pretty strong feminine side and am very right-brain dominant., I can easily think in abstract. I have to confess I do love being a woman :). I love receiving compliments. However like everyone I also have a mix of masculine energy in me, I like to think in balance.. its what helps me go out into the world and work for a living and get things done in time. I see my feminine energy surface in my daily work, in the way in which I love to work in collaboration with my coworkers. I love to bring them food and treats. And I love creating whether its recipes, or writing unique blog posts, by synthesizing knowledge in new and creative ways. And I love to play dress up, using different fabrics, textures and colours to bring vibrancy to life.

Here are my 5 ways to help out this seeker who asked how to increase feminine energy:

  1. Yoga poses – In yoga observing yourself makes you come to the conclusion which side of you is more active and which side a little less. this one is easy for you to spot your stronger side. Try this neat tip.. a fun yoga pose to not only get into focus 
     but also figure out your dominant energy.
  2. Hanging out with women – ever seen a bunch of women together. We can really bring the estrogen level up in the room. Women typically nurture each other. We don’t like to confront and fault find. We like to soothe egos, and nurture and we do this quite well when we are in a group of women. Hanging out with a group of women will really help bring out your feminine side more.
  3. Move – movement of any kind will typically always increase feminine energy. Maybe dance to your favourite music, get up from your desk, do some yoga, do something, anything to move. Dance freely without being conscious of who is watching you, make it seductive.. feminine energy gets activated by movement.
  4. Face pack – make a thick paste of chickpea flour and yogurt and apply this to your face. When semi-dry, rub the face pack in circular motions, going against the direction of the hair growth. If you’d like to naturally bleach your facial hair, try adding honey and lemon juice to this mixture. Do this at least twice a week for at least over a year. I do this everyday, minus yoghurt and have been following this no soap regime for a long time now. I started in my teen years so I have a bit of head start, but its never too late to take care of your skin, so go on try this out.
  5. Eat the right foods – since the growth of facial hair is usually due to increased levels of testosterones, drink spearmint tea instead of your regular tea. Spearmint is known to control and lower testosterone levels. A Turkish study showed that PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome) women who drank 2 cups of spearmint tea every day for a month showed a significant reduction in the level of excess androgen. Add Foods rich In Omega 3’s like flaxseed. Omega 3’s can minimize the levels of testosterone in women. Flaxseed is a great source of these omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, vitamin B1 and fiber. I keep a bottle of ground up flax seeds and add a teaspoon everyday to whatever I’m having for breakfast- cereals, smoothies etc.

I’m sure you will agree that we need both energies in balance to be in harmony.

What we hope to get through yoga is a balance between our masculine and feminine energies, so we are all complete in ourselves. And then we can attract complete beings just like ourselves into our life :) but often times we get too out of balance. In western society, the masculine is emphasized, running around getting things done and being action oriented is considered a virtue. And Indeed it is, the civilization wouldn’t have made strides if previous generations hadnt’ worked so hard to get things done. But in all this getting things done, feminine energy of intuition, of play, of nurturing took a back seat.

So this note from a viewer on Apsara Yoga facebook page was I believe a  timely reminder to all of us. So dear reader, I know I got a bit carried away in sharing all this.. i hope you find it helpful. Let me know after you try these tips consistently on how things go. You have my full and complete support in wanting to reclaim your feminine side and I’m always there to help you if you have any questions.

I haven’t forgotten that this reader asked for tips to make her voice more attractive. watch out for a future post. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with my kirtan on invoking the feminine goddess Durga

–charuyoga–

Come alive, activate your chakras with kirtan

Ever felt low and depressed. Maybe it’s the cold weather, maybe it’s the lack of sunshine, maybe its just life stuff. Speaking for myself, being a child of the tropics, winters can really wear down even my typically cheerful and positive outlook on life.

What do you do then? What happens If this low feeling hits you at night like it does sometimes to me. And doesn’t allow me to go to sleep.

My answer is kirtan. Every night I go to sleep listening to the chants of a kirtan that is a particular favourite of mine. Its not because I sang it, but because of the way it lights up my chakras. Leaving no room for despair, no room for depressive thoughts, or no room for sadness.

Chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or cycle. There are 7 chakras in the yogic system. These are like spiral energy centers through which energy flows through. They govern the wellbeing of different aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual well being. Having a chakra out of whack essentially means some part of you isn’t functioning optimally and needs loving care and attention. You can seek it out through external media like a trip to the doctor’s office and get some drugs, which typically tend to mask symptoms, but don’t always get to the cause. Or you can resort to yoga poses to get your chakras alive and going again. In Apsara yoga classes, our aim is to make you come alive.
However if you are not in the mood to spring into a yoga pose, there’s an easier way out.

Listening to the sounds of kirtan is an awesome way to reconnect with yourself and re-energize yourself. I remember singing during off times at my yoga teacher training course. And every single time, without fail my fellow student would burst into tears and dash out of the room. After a point, I was concerned. Was my music that awful? No, assured my teacher, he’s got to be extremely grateful to you. Your music is rousing in him ancient memories, hurt, buried away and with the sounds that you are creating, his chakras are getting re-awakened and he is healing. Don’t stop, she said, keep on. And sure enough my fellow student came back to the studio and asked if I could keep on singing.

Here then is a chant that I listen to every night to just feel alive and I have no problem going to sleep after. Take a listen. Its live music, not studio recording, so there might be a place or two where the audio capturing isn’t the best. But its still amazing. Listen, just listen and let the waves of the music wash over you, bringing you healing and making you come alive by lighting up your energy centers.

–charuyoga–